Seasonal dynamics of three types of herbaceous phytocenoses in different phytogeographical parts of Serbia

„Thanks to ORCA’s invitation to participate in the project Bee friendly to nature: Advocating for evidence-based Nature based solutions for people and nature in Serbia, I had the opportunity to write a master’s thesis, without the costs that I would otherwise have to carry out the research required for a master’s thesis.”

Žarko emphasizes that his participation in the project enabled him to travel to 6 remote locations throughout Serbia, as well as other conditions and resources, which were necessary to successfully and qualitatively conduct his research, without which the preparation of this master’s thesis would not have been possible.

The nature of Žarko’s profession is such that it requires frequent field research. By participating in this project, Žarko gained enormous experience, which will be useful for his further career development.

Summary of the research paper

Grassy vegetation occupies a huge area on planet Earth. It represents a huge source of biodiversity, providing significant benefits and services to mankind. A large part of the flora and fauna of Europe and Serbia is represented by species that are specialized for life in meadow ecosystems, and many of them are also endemic species.

All plant communities are dynamic systems, variable in space and time due to sensitivity to the variability of the biotic and abiotic components of the ecosystem. The feature that different activities in the phytocenosis are realized at different times represents the temporal organization of the living community.

The goals of this work are:

  1. 1.       Collection of basic data on the quantitative participation of each plant species within three types of herbaceous communities (hygrophilic, mesophilic and xerophilic) using the Braun-Blanquet method, in six localities: Deliblatska peščara, Titelski breg, Beljanica, Rudnik, Tara, Peštersko polje;
  2. 1.       Determination of syntaxonomic units of investigated plant communities based on data collected in the field using cluster analysis using Bray-Curtis distance measure and UPGMA grouping method (Unweighted Pair Group Method with Arithmetic Mean);
  3. 1.       Determining and describing the seasonal variability of the examined plant communities for the period May, June, July using Shannon’s diversity index and Cody’s beta diversity index.

It was found that the grouping of clusters within xerophilic and hygrophilic herbaceous vegetation is more influenced by geographical than seasonal differences, while the grouping of phytocenological images of mesophilic vegetation is more influenced by seasonal than geographical differences. The diversity indicated that the xerophilic communities of Titelski breg, Beljanica, Tara and Peštersko polje represent very dynamic systems, while the communities from Deliblatska peščara and Rudnik constitute less dynamic systems.

Within the mesophilic communities, the most dynamic systems are those from Tara and Peštersko polje, while the less dynamic are those from Rudnik, Titelski breg and Beljanica. Due to the nature of the water environment and methodological inconsistency, hygrophilic communities showed different dynamics than expected.

It is necessary to continue further research in a continuous period during the entire growing season with the best possible monitoring of the physical and chemical parameters of the soil and with the best possible knowledge of the very characteristics of the locality and climate of the researched areas, in order to get a better overview and understanding of the dynamism of the investigated plant communities.

A lack of explanation of the dynamics of these plant communities in the literature was observed, and this could be one of the possible directions in which further research should go.

About Žarko Mladenović

Žarko Mladenović is currently employed at the Department of Botany, at the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Belgrade, in the position of researcher-intern.

In addition to research and scientific work, Žarko participates in teaching the subjects “Botany” and “Medicinal plants and the environment”. In addition to this, he is involved in several important projects whose goal is the research of protected plant species, as well as the research of protected and endangered natural habitats in Serbia and the assessment of their vulnerability.

Žarko decided to do this job, because he wants to explore the natural world that surrounds us, to gain knowledge (no matter how small it may be) that will benefit both current and future generations, who decide to engage in the fascinating science called botany.

Žarko Mladenović